Gospel ministry in Tasmania is about often about serving God in small communities. The suburb where I live, in Summerhill, is its own distinct community. We’re always meeting familiar and sort-of-familiar people whereever we go. Everyone buys groceries at the same shop, sends their kids to the same school, walk around the same streets. Gospel ministry in this context means serving and being a presence in a localised way.
Tasmania is a place made up of numerous small communitys both within the larger population centres and outlying towns. This presents both challenges and opportunities for gospel ministry. You can drive through the regional towns and find empty church buildings built by faithful members of the past. There are often 2 or 3 of them sitting there empty or converted into a house. And yet, in the towns within 30 minutes of Launceston you’ll find new houses, with retirees looking for a slower pace, and young workers willing to commute.
Our church has been meeting in Hadspen for a few weeks now. It’s a picturesque town, set along the banks of the South Esk River. With connections to the Entally Estate, there is a long history. Over the years, it has grown into something of a commuter town of Launceston. It has a country feel to it, and yet within 10 minutes you can be in the centre of Launceston. This is something that has attracted many young families to build new houses in the town.
From the beginning our church plant, we’ve been praying and thinking about a church which not only serves the southwest suburbs of Launceston but also reaches the nearby towns. We see our ‘parish’ as being a 20 minute drive of our meeting place. This radius encompasses several towns of less than 1000 people and many farms. The challenge before our church is finding ways to be able to serve people from across the area.
Churches in the Meander Valley are few and far between, and we’re glad to start up just outside of the city. Gospel ministry in this context may look small, however it’s needed nonetheless. The gospel of the Lord Jesus is for everyone after all.